Giant pandas boost China-Belgium ties

Playful giants: Panda twins Bao Di and Bao Mei enjoying their third birthday party at Pairi Daiza Zoo in Belgium. — China Daily/ANN

Beijing: The giant panda is a powerful symbol when it comes to species conservation.

In Belgium, a zoo that is hosting five giant pandas and has worked with Chinese animal experts on panda breeding for many years epitomises the cooperation between the two countries in protecting animals and preserving biodiversity.

In February this year, the Pairi Daiza Zoo in southwest Belgium’s Brugelette municipality nailed down an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association to allow six-year-old Tian Bao, the very first giant panda born in the European country, to continue to stay there, making the zoo one of the few in the world that host as many as five pandas.

Back in 1987, giant pandas were gaining fans in Belgium when the country received two from Southwest China’s Sichuan province for a months-long sojourn.

Numerous locals flocked to the garden where they stayed to catch a glimpse.

Twenty-seven years later, another panda couple named Xing Hui and Hao Hao arrived in Brussels in line with a 15-year giant panda cooperation agreement signed between the two countries.

The number of visits to the zoo in 2014 reached nearly two million.

Before their arrival, the Pairi Daiza Zoo built specially for the pandas a 5,300sq m habitat designed with some features of their original home in Sichuan, and dispatched staff to the Chinese centre to learn how to keep pandas and prepare feed for them.

China also sent two breeders to help feed the pandas in Belgium.

By now, the couple has given birth to three cubs, with their first baby Tian Bao born in 2016, and twins Bao Di and Bao Mei born in 2019. — China Daily/ANN

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